With the Easter holiday approaching, many parents will be running to their local store to reach for a box of egg dye–filled with artificial colorants, whose safety in food has become a topic for debate in children’s health in recent years.
Even though only the exterior shell of the egg is colored with traditional dye, some of the dye can still seep through the shell and onto the edible part of the egg.
Instead of using dye tablets this year, make natural food coloring from fruits and vegetables. Older kids will enjoy the process of making the colors just as much as dying the eggs.
To begin, you’ll need to have your kitchen fully stocked with fruits and vegetables that will produce some beautiful colors, a bottle of vinegar, several pots for boiling, and eggs. The colors will set best if you boil the eggs in the same pot as the fruits and vegetables.
Which fruits and vegetables can you use? Anything that, when boiled, will leave some of the natural pigment in the water will work for coloring eggs. Part of the fun is experimenting with different fruits, vegetables, and even flowers!
Here is a list of some items that dye really nicely:
Yellow: lemon skins, chamomile tea, green tea, ground turmeric, ground cumin
Pink: raspberries, cranberries, beets
Violet: mix blueberries with one of the pink berries
Orange: carrots, chili powder, paprika
Brown: coffee grounds, tea, cocoa powder, onion skins
1. Select the fruit or vegetable that you would like to use and boil it in a small pot with your eggs. Adding a tablespoon of vinegar will create a much more vibrant color.
2. Boil for 10-15 minutes until your eggs are hard-boiled.
3. For deeper color, allow the eggs to sit in the dye bath for an hour or longer. You can even let them soak in the bath overnight in a refrigerator, if desired.
To add a little more decoration to your eggs try sprinkling salt over the egg as soon as you remove it from the dye bath. The color will pull away from the salt crystals and create a speckled or star-like pattern on the egg.
Before placing the egg in the dye you can also color on it with a white or clear crayon (or wax pencil). The dye will resist from those areas allowing your pattern or words to show through as white.
By skipping the traditional dye tablets you’ll not only be skipping on the artificial dyes; you’ll be creating less waste. No cardboard boxes to dispose of, no plastic wrappers, no stickers, and no wire egg dunkers. Any waste created will be compostable and will naturally biodegrade in your waste pile.
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